Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Far Will You Go To Get A Story?

THINK YOU'RE TOO good for tabloid news?

Do you think that the gossip rags exploit our thespians and musicians, invading their privacy for the sole purpose of titillating the Wal-Mart loving masses?

Well, what if they do?

In recent years, the National Enquirer has sold more than a million copies per week AND it has broken major stories that were then picked up by the mainstream press.

For instance, the Enquirer broke the story of former presidential candidate John Edwards having an affair (and baby!) while his wife was ill with cancer.

On Tuesday, Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine, a 1981 TU Journalism grad, will discuss celebrity journalism, the Edwards affair and how far he'll go to get a story.

Should be fun stuff (and lots of potential material for the Issues Facing Journalism paper).

41 comments:

Megan McCue Journalism said...

Is that story true?

Geo said...

Uh, yup.

- George (the teacher who wouldn't lie to you)

danzee88 said...

I'm going to stick to my elitist guns and say that tabloids (not in their literal definition) are in some respects below the standards and are less respectable. I understand that they sometimes break real news but i don't see that happening enough to really cause a stir. Call me stuck up but i bite my thumb at them!

ohsodramatic said...

depending upon the story
i love the tabloids!! its hilarious
i say dig up the dirt because i love to read it ! its entertaining.

-viannie ( extra credit pts mr.G!)

Pete B said...

I have to say that the Inquirer changed some of my views on tabloids.

When they report on true news... the election, OJ trial, something that has a validity to it like the John Edwards or Bill Clinton stories, then The National Inquirer is truly a good news source.

I put all tabloid outlets in the same boat, which happens to be my own little Titanic, 12,000 feet below the ocean where I don't pay any attention to them. Yet today I learned that sometimes the mainstream news doesn't want to be viewed as a tabloid, and it is up to true investigative journalists to go out there and get a story.

I still will not read the tabloids about any celebrity news though, its all crap, I care more about my own life than Brad Pitt and whichever girl he spends 15 minutes with.

laura meminger said...

I have mixed feelings about the Enquirer now. I respect that they have broken some big news stories but I find it hard to believe that every single story they publish is true. In fact, Barry Levine contradicted himself today when talking about Barack Obama. He said that they have done a lot of investigating and have found nothing on him and yet behind him on the screen was a cover page from the Enquirer saying Obama got in a screaming match with his wife over other women and other such headlines. Poor guy probably didn't know that was on the screen behind him....

Grace Dickinson said...

I do not think what Barry Levine is doing is right or fair. He intrudes people's personal privacy and makes stories out of their faults. The Enquirer reporters sneak around and do shady reporting just to make a story to get money. I didn't think Levine was a good speaker, probably because he secretly knows that what he is writing is not good journalism and shouldn't be credited as so.

jess acholonu said...

It appears I've had it all backasswards all along. If you don't want to be a "sell out" be a tabloid reporter. I've seen the light and am now converted.

Megan Morrow said...

Honestly, I thought todays speech was going to be a lot more interesting than it turned out to be for me. I have mixed feelings when it comes to tabloids. I don't let them consume a lot of my time because I don't think they are real most of the time, but they can be fun to read when I'm bored. I don't believe that everything they write is true. Just my personal opinion. Also, I feel like the topic is interesting and a lot of us can relate to reading them, as well as knowing a lot about the people who are frequently in them, but I felt like his way of talking to us was very boring. He didn't seem excited about him work like I pictured, which made me lose interest in what he had to say. Also, it seemed like he was reading off of his notes a lot, which is fine because I'm sure he does a lot of work with many different topics. But, I felt like he didn't really take time to know what he was going to say to us. It was interesting to hear about, but not what I thought it was going to be.

Trish said...

I thought it was funny how he was so proud of himself for stalking people's lives. He wasn't a good speaker at all.
I don't like tabloids, and I don't find them interesting. Why do I want to read about other people's lives when I have my own life to worry about? I definitely do not consider Barry Levine a good journalist, mostly because the only thing that he is concerned about is ruining people's lives so he can make money. I think that good Journalism is reporting stories that are actually important to people and revolve around their own lives.

Matt Petrillo said...

Tabloids are stigmatized with the perception that they are not credible. Whether or not they are, if I want news I (hope that I) can trust I'd turn to a newspaper.

Still, he is an interesting man and met pretty amazing people throughout his career.

J K Hirst said...

He definitely had a great knowledge of his field and was an interesting speaker, but I just don't respect that kind of journalism. I think it pollutes space and time that could be devoted to much more pressing issues than whether or not Britney is going to kill her kids. Also, at the end when he said a reporter infiltrated a Taliban camp, I'm sorry but that's just bullshit.

Kali Acerra said...

It's really hard for me to make a judgement on tabloids. Although I don't like to admit, I have picked up and even read a tabloid when the cover caught my eye. I really don't find these types of magazines very trustworthy.
I also didn't really trust Mr. Levine. I definitely thought he would talk more about styles of journalism and celebrity culture. Instead, I felt like I was reading the Enquirer for an hour and a half. I find it hard to believe that every thing they print and every photo they take is absolutely true. I think Mr. Levine deserves respect because he works very hard to get a story. However, it is questionable whether or not the stories should be gotten.

Jen said...

I certainly have mixed feelings about the whole tabloid thing. Yes, I somewhat admire them for not giving up on the John Edwards case just because no one else wanted to listen. He did make a good point that other media outlets, even those that many people consider "credible," pay off sources to get the "exclusive" story. However I cannot believe that ALL their stories are true. I also thought the statement about the Enquirer being "attacked" before anyone else with Anthrax by terrorists was a bit ridiculous, but maybe that was just me. I still have very mixed feelings about tabloids (more negative than positive) and probably always will.

summergirl said...

It's great that they're breaking news stories, but I just think there are better ways to go about it. And better ways to present it, rather than having it be so sensasionalist. Honestly, when your biggest accomplishments come from stalking people with helicopters and chasing them into bathrooms...I just don't respect your work that much. By all means, seek out good stories...but I just find their methods over the top. I wouldn't trust their stories, despite all he said about fact-checking. It's just unreasonable.

Samantha N. said...

I read National Enquirer ALL the time, and am constantly bashed for enjoying it. Everyone I know tells me "it's not real journalism" and that they basically put information in that isn't true. I've always fought back saying all the information is true, they publish stories that aren't just about celebrities and their cellulite, blah blah blah but I was so happy to hear Barry Levine answer the question about whether or not to trust National Enquirer. He said that every piece of information that is published has been fact checked and if there is one ounce of doubt as to the validity of the information, sources go through a lie detector test. A question was asked why the Enquirer publishes stories that ruin celebrities and politicians lives, and my response is "why not?" Celebrities put themselves in the spotlight by doing their job - scandals are bound to happen, and just as Levine said..if the Enquirier doesn't pick up these stories, another tabloid will. "Journalism is a business" as we are constantly told in class and it's true. I really enjoyed Levine's presentation. He is a journalist just like any other reporter, whether it is for The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan or the Enquirer. He finds stories & shares it with the public. And even if it is a guilty pleasure...it's the guilty pleasure of almost a million other Americans who buy National Enquirers too! :)

Samantha N. said...

..and just for the record, I totally agree that celebrities adopting babies and losing weight and cheating on their husbands/wives is NOT journalism. Sure, it's information some people want to know..but I'm more interested in the scandals the National Enquirer publishes and makes known to its readers. Levine is still a journalist because he goes to extremes to serve the public - even though his information may exploit others, it's still journalism and still credible. Just wanted to clear myself up!

Sean Purvis said...

I thought it was absolutely despicable for the people at the Enquirer to set up, what was essentially a sting operation, on John Edwards just to get their story. I would never want to work for a publication who pays people off for their take on stories. I don't know how they sleep at night.

Taj said...

Eh, even if they broke a few major and true stories, who wants to sift through all the bullshit for them, and how do we know what`s true and what`s embellished? Dude said they`d inspected Obama and there was nothing that proved anything other than he was a respectable man.. YET they have him on the cover with fabricated stories. Blah. George, I`m too good for tabloid journalism.. i CAN`T. I don`t care enough about their lives to dedicate my life to climbing over fences and hanging in trees to catch them doing something I should be.. living life.

Kate Sobon said...

I would agree with a lot of the comments especially with what Taj said. It seems the National Enquirer has a lot of stories which are false and even if they do have some stories that potentially might be true I don't feel they are credible. I also do not care enough about celebrities or people in the public eye enough to read embellished or completely false stories for entertainment. I want the truth about newsworthy stories.

katie tully said...

even though everyone complains about celebrities and tabloids.. they sell, which means tons of people ARE interested, and why not give the public what they want?

AshleyH said...

This presentation actually changed some of my thoughts of tabloids. I was surprised to hear of all the "fact-checking" and the "lawful ways" of the reporters. It all seems so questionable and to have absolutely zero credibility but now I'm not sure what exactly to think. However, I will stick to my guns: Never believe everything you read.

adam bonanni said...

I like what Laura Memminger said, how Levinson said they couldn't find a scoop on Obama, yet there was a huge front page photo of him, blatantly saying he is divorcing his wife or whatever. It's hard to take these papers seriously, and you'd think if these stories were true, that they would get much more mainstream media coverage. If Paris Hilton crying is what respectable newscasters start the day with, you'd think Britney Spears screaming "I'll Kill the Kids" would generate some buzz. Whether these stories be true or not, it can't be argued that the way they are presented on the cover of the magazine is trashy, and such a transparent attempt to get the magazines in the hands of readers. I don't bite.

Lauren Hubbard said...

Not to jump on the bandwagon or anything, but I'm going to have to agree with a bunch of the post prior to my own. Seeing Levine's greeny side of the grass, I'm split now. I do think that SOMETIMES when they do break big stories, like the John Edwards scandal, they're not acknowledged by a good portion of Americans who hear about the story later. Because the deception about tabloids (to me) is that they take some pictures, and pick out the bad and blow it up a bit... even though it might all be true to begin with. But I didn't know they broke that story, and probably wouldn't have if he hadn't come to class today. I figured it was one of the other "real" newsies doing it. I guess it's just a bad reputation they'll fight off for a long while (if not forever). I was surprised to see how much fact checking and dedication they put into it. BUT, I wouldn't say Sir Levine got my rose tinted glasses off completely, maybe just got them to the tip of my nose. I still think some of the articles tabloids print (not just NE) are a bit outrageous, as if the juicy, good, real news ran out while they were on deadline. I think celebrities are interesting- to a certain extent. Everyone has a story and theirs just happens to be out there a bit more, but guarded?... making it more interesting (almost). But, I don't think that means their privacy should be pounced on, just to make a quick buck. HOWEVER, for stories like John Edwards and the Elvis one he talked about and Michael Jackson, those are actually real sink-you-teeth-into type of stories... Which would be awesome if that is all tabloids would be committed to, but they're not. I love how Levine didn't talk about the who-needs-to-eat-a-sandwich articles or the cellulite- guess who's ass! articles.... which makes me suspicious. He only wants to talk about the good stuff in his lecture hall lime light. I don't blame him, but it's a bit suspicious.

Geo said...

I love those cellulite covers! And the "Who's Gay?" cover? Priceless. How could you not want to read that?

I was really hoping he'd dish on the stars.

I know, I know. The Enquirer broke a major story this year. But who is Angelina sleeping with now? Is Beyonce running around on Jay Z? Did Oprah really freak out in public? Yum. That's the good stuff.

- George (the teacher who would never admit to reading celeb gossip but love pop culture)

Genevia said...

I find it hard to believe that EVERY story in The Enquirer is true. That's not possible and it doesn't make sense and if they truly are...I'm happy to be in denial! When reporters become obsessive and engage in OC (out of control) activities to uncover a story (the lie detector chair story), there's a serious PROBLEM, especially since it's for celebrity gossip!

And...leave Beyonce and Jay-Z out of this. It's real, perfect love. Stop HATING...I love them!

What's up with those extra points Geo? :)

Geo said...

Extra points? I have no idea what you're talking about.

- George (the teacher who isn't being sarcastic for once ... what points?)

Bradshaw Wish said...

Honestly, I feel it was a lot of bull shit. i didn't buy what he was saying for one second. I feel the majority of the stories written in the Enquirer are lies and aimed to ruin peoples lives. It's just about making money, rather than respectable journalism.


Bradshaw Wish

RICH D. said...

I must say i am disappointed I was the only one who actually had the balls to tell this guy what he did was wrong. Making your living off of ruining and in other cases spying (illegally) on people and flashing money in the faces of people that are vulnerable is wrong. This was an interesting guest but NOT a journalist. He is to me what PR is to George. I do think this was a great guest and an awesome thing to see and person to meet but come on now... what is his personal life LETS SEE IF WE CAN EXPLOIT SOME OF HIS SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET..... criminal!!!!!

HouseMD said...

this sensationalism is hard to buy. after hearing him speak, i have an idea of how he wants his work to be portrayed, but somehow i don't see how that type of career would be fulfilling. it might be exciting at first but i think in any ethical person, paying the bills just isn't enough when it takes such a shallow job to do it. I would think working for the tabloid industry would be a phase many people would go through at a younger age, but not stick with.

Gina Benigno said...

After listening to executive editor, Barry Levine, on Tuesday, part of me wants to run to my nearest grocery store and pick up a National Enquirer. However, I'm having a hard time believing half of the stories in this piece of media. This tabloid uses scandal to make money, and hey, why blame them? They're raking in millions. 60,000+ dollars for a photograph? That's insane!

I definitely feel like there is more vital news out there that we should be paying greater attention to. Without question, I really didn't buy Mr. Levine's statement that every single thing his staff prints is true, and that they've only had to make one retraction in the publication way back in the 1970's.

The National Enquirer is definitely more legitimate than I thought it was. Some of the stories these reporters find are insane and end up being true, just like the monstrous John Edwards scandal.

Aside from all of this, I still don't buy it.

Felicia Pappalardo said...

I really hope Temple doesn't instill the same lackluster public speaking skills that Barry picked up... He really needed to read from a paper to tell about his own life?

Kirsten Stamn said...

George, I think she was talking about extra credit.

Anyways, I think that the Enquirer has the potential to be the best investigative weekly out there. They should definitely get props for getting the Edwards story and the Jesse Jackson story. That kind of reporting is hardly seen today and really keeps people in power on their toes. But the crap they pull with celebrities....I don't think it's wrong to write about the truth but how many times are they going to say that Oprah split up with her boyfriend? Seriously? They lose almost all of their credibility when they print stories that consistently end up to be not true.

Alyssa said...

I was extremely shocked to hear the amount of work put into each article at the National Enquirer. At my job as a cashier, I would sit at the front end and wonder why we put the National Enquierer next to our registers when there were so many more worthy publications. My attitudes and opinions have done a 180 and thats great because that is what good journalism should do: inform. I may actually go pick up a copy!

KIERRAY said...

I personally loathe celebrity gossip...

But if that's what the people want...Then so be it.

Our duty is to the public, right?

Niajee said...

I disagree with the notion that just because you are a celebirty your life should be on blast for the world to know. Let people live heir lives tabloids disgust me!

erin shetron said...

I must say, I was a bit disappointed by Levine's little chat with the class. I feel like he tried to sell the Enquirer as a legitimate source of current, factual information... but I didn't buy it. I looked at the array of Enquirer covers on the board and felt like I was in the presence of garbage. If he was trying to make it seem like he and his newspaper aren't slimy, Levine did a bad job. I don't believe for a second that the staff work as hard as he said they do to provide truthful information. I would never pick up a National Enquirer and expect anything more than gossip and sensationalism.

James said...

Tabloids, to me, can be a hard topic to take a position on. I love the daily celebrity gossip but sometimes I feel as though it can be taken too far. For instance this whole story about John Edwards. Yes, he was having and affair but, why did it have to be taken so far the way it was? Really, who cares who he is? They had to put his wife through so much and it honestly was not necessary. It can almost be seen as a hearless job at times.

Taj said...

To everyone who was making comments about "its what the people want..", chew on this: are people interested BECAUSE the media has piped up celebrities and make them seem important, or because of a general interest? Honestly, I`ve been fed so much crap about celebs that I could care less about and it wasn`t because I was searching for it. Sometimes I`m amazed at the info we unknowingly absorb. Like seriously, I didn`t know about Mike Phelps until the olympics and now I know some of his stats >_<.

whitney said...

It's not journalism, it's entertainment. I give the guy props for dealing with all the crap people give him. Is what he doing fair? I'm not so sure, but those people are putting themselves out to the public with the knowledge that people want to know the gossip on them.

Anonymous said...

I think that tabloids often get a bad rap... but rightfully so. I mean, some of the stories covered are just pure garbage. In addition,pictures and quotes are often manipulated or taken out of context to make the issue more entertaining for the reader. I do feel that the National Inquirer is a more credible magazine compared other tabloids. When Barry came to visit, he justified this for me to a certain extent. His stories were captivating because it's almost like he thinks of himself as an investigator, which I suppose, he sort of is. But, there's a part of me that just felt as though Mr. Levine was full of crap. I felt like he was hiding some information, especially when asked about the number of lawsuits.
I realize that people want to know what's going on in the lives of superstars, but there is a point when enough is enough.
Nikki Allen J1111